Work Sucks! But, it doesn’t have to…

6 min read

I’ll always remember the moment in 2014 when I ‘rage quit’, handing in my resignation to the company I’d worked in for the past 5.5 years.

I didn’t ‘rage’ quit as such.  I was calm.  I had been unhappy for a long time and knew I needed to do something about it.  But I’m the kinda guy who needs to jump first and build wings on the way down.

The number of times I had started job hunting but given up because of long-winded application forms and uninspiring opportunities on the job market that weren’t worth that effort… I knew I had to just do it and find the solution after.  So, as I sat in a meeting room quietly trying to work out how I was going to assess 63 people for jobs in the next three days; I quit!

As I tried to put together my masterplan for our recruitment activity, I couldn’t move past the exasperated feeling I’d had for a very long time – we don’t need to be constantly losing our best people and going back through expensive recruitment and development programmes only to be looking for those peoples’ replacements within a few months too!

Not only is creating a positive workplace culture the morally right thing to do for people who give up 90 – 100,000 hours of their lives to come and work for us – it’s also just bad business not to look after your most valuable asset!

I didn’t know I was going to quit when I went to work that day, and that’s technically a ‘rage quit’ because it wasn’t planned and I didn’t know what I was going to do next.  But it was the right moment, and I knew it.

The response I got was telling, “Every day for the last year I came in knowing today could have been the day you quit.”  This baffled me and still does.  If you’ve known for a year, why didn’t you do anything about it – I thought.

The company made some attempts to try and get me to stay but it was too late.  How often does that happen?  Organisations wait until people are so far past the point of no return they quit before suddenly deciding it might be worth addressing issues?  What a ridiculous way to run a business.

We know that even when people accept a counter offer to stay, they often leave within 6 months anyway.  So, by that point – you’ve lost them.

Various national studies have shown that up to 80% of people who accept counter offers to remain with their employer leave within 6-12 months anyway.

I was responsible for recruitment and talent development.  I was viewing my situation through two lenses; that of the disgruntled employee and that of the employer as it was my job to get the right people to join the organisation.

I felt like I spent my life hiring great people, training them up, watching them leave; rinse and repeat.  It made no sense to me.  Surely if we just fixed some of the issues that were slapping us in the face daily and created the kind of workplace experience people valued, they’d… you know, stay?  Is that a stretch of the imagination?

People used to lament working in the company; and not because they were lazy and didn’t want to work hard (as struggling hiring managers and recruiters trying to ‘sell’ careers in organisations with toxic cultures would have you believe).  I get their frustration; not being able to attract the right jobseekers makes their lives very difficult.  But, if this is you, you’re basically where I was, and you’re pointing your finger in the wrong direction if you’re labelling an entire generation with terms like ‘lazy’, ‘disloyal’ and err… ‘snowflake’ rather than addressing the root cause of your problems.

It’s a get out.  It means no accountability has to be taken.  We can just blame today’s youth.  I get it, because the hiring manager or the recruiter has bills to pay and food to put on the table.  They’re part of a broken system and just trying to do their bit as best they can.  Usually, they know it themselves too.  They know why they can’t attract top candidates or get their most talented people to stay.  They’ve often raised issues several times before, but found there’s no appetite to solve problems.  When working in a large organisation it can seem like turning an oil tanker influencing change.  So, a learned helplessness seeps through the organisation infecting everyone.  We “can’t” change, so – it’s easier and a bit of a release just to b*tch about young people.

Look at the profiles of those commenting on the above.  Managers, recruiters – they hold those views about the people they need to come and work in their companies, air them publicly and wonder what the problem is!  What does it tell us that ‘let’s end ageism’ had zero likes after 16 days, but ‘the age of the snowflake’ got 10.

People actually lamented working in the organisation I was leaving because the work was interesting and they wanted it to be a place they could stay.  It could have been a wonderful place to have a career where people would have remained for many years; out of choice too – not lack of viable alternative options.

High staff retention that exists only because of a lack of viable alternatives is not victory.  It’s not success.  It’s not good for your business.  Those people are in work, but are they performing?  Or are they actually a bleed on your resources?

In our case, as quarterly emails rolled in from head office about “record breaking profits,” people taking home a net salary of £850 GBP per month, while working a gyrating shift pattern that would give a sleep apnoeac (yes, I made that word up.. I think) insomnia, would get disgruntled.  Go figure?

It would have been so much cheaper than the cost of throwing money at recruitment, 3-week induction programmes we ran for new starts, the 6-months it would take them to stop making mistakes (costing the business a fortune defaulting on contractual SLAs with clients) and waiting for them to become proficient in the role so they delivered a return on investment – if we just addressed the root cause of our problems.

If the argument not to invest in people is ‘shareholders’, a business will be more efficient, effective and profitable if it looks after it’s people.  Win:Win.

And so, after a bit of soul searching during which I sold all my possessions, moved to Spain, took a job (that was just as bad as the last) and promptly left that job, I decided what I wanted to do with my life.  Since mid-2015 I’ve been on a quest to change the way the world works.

I believe in a better working world.  I believe the world of work can work better for both employers and for employees if they care enough about each other.

I’ve spent the last few years seeking out organisations and people who ‘get it’.  People who recognise that it’s both the right thing to do and it makes better business sense to create vibrant workplaces.  I help them on that journey.

We’re now launching the ‘Vibrant Workplace Challenge’ to support our movement towards a better world of work.  Over a 3-month period we’ll evaluate the culture of your business, then provide a comprehensive cultural health report featuring key indicators including your Employee Engagement, Employee Net Promoter and Vibrant Workplace scores.

If you meet our benchmark, we’ll verify your organisation (or team, department, squad, tribe etc. if it’s a specific business area you decide to enrol) as a Vibrant Workplace which authentically demonstrates to people that you are a stand out employer of choice.

If you don’t meet the benchmark don’t worry, that’s all part of the learning and even more reason why you should take part.  We’ll offer our support to partner with you on a bespoke cultural transformation programme that optimises employee experience to help boost business performance!  That’s where many of these schemes fall down – data overload and no support for what to do with them.  Whereas for us, we live and breathe this stuff and we’ll be your ally on the journey.

We’re confident the Vibrant Workplace Challenge is the most in-depth, authentic and supportive cultural transformation solution in existence.  Don’t take our word for it:


“firmus energy first engaged with Vibrant Talent a number of years ago in order to even further develop our reputation and commitment to being a first-class employer of choice in Northern Ireland. We progressed a programme which comprehensively assessed the needs of our staff, identified any areas which could be improved, and supported actions to deliver our ambitions.

Vibrant have engaged extensively with the business throughout an extremely challenging period in our history (due to the global pandemic) and we have come out the other side with both excellent results and a clear pathway of how to ensure our staff, and in turn our customer experience, is enhanced.

Any company prepared to listen, learn and actively engage with Vibrant Talent will be taking a step closer to achieving their own ambitions by demonstrating commitment to their staff, their culture, and ultimately, their customers.”



Do you want to optimise your business?

Get in touch to discuss becoming a Vibrant Workplace by emailing